Fundamentals Of Marketing And Design Thinking


At the Preliminary Rounds of CIMA Launch Pad 2018, we witnessed 17 teams pitch their startups to a panel of judges. Out of these, 10 teams made it on to the next stage, the incubation phase. So who’s on the top 10 list? Teams ITO Automations,, Direct Pay, Ananke, Kitgro, Park and Pay, Rational X,, Seats, and Avina.

These teams will now go through several workshops before entering the next round of selections. The first of these workshops was held over the weekend. Here, the focus was on the fundamentals of marketing and design thinking.

Fundamentals of marketing: Understand who is your customer

First up, was Bhanuka Harischandra, Founder and CEO of Surge Global. Bhanuka’s session primarily focused on the fundamentals of marketing. He kicked off by pointing out that people shouldn’t ideally have to go through a lot of mental jumps trying to understand your business. In other words, you should clearly communicate what exact problem you’re trying to solve.

“At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how great your product is if nobody knows about it” – Bhanuka Harischandra

One of the highlights from Bhanuka’s session was how it’s important to understand who your customer really is. For example, take the solar panel industry in Sri Lanka. Everybody probably thinks solar is a great idea. But then again, not everybody would want to buy solar panels. “If I’m marketing for solar panels, I’m not going to market and tell how great the product is because that’s not the problem”.

CIMA Launch Pad 2018 | Marketing and Design Thinking workshop
Bhanuka and Yusra on fundamentals of marketing

Another fact, which may sometimes be overlooked by startups, is the importance of networking. As Bhanuka puts it, when you start conversing and engage in dialogues with different people, you start to understand the different perspectives better. For example, how you might solve a certain problem in your startup may be entirely different from how another person might choose to solve it.

Building your team

One of the challenges of building your startup is managing people, which can often be tough. Every startup may not be able to invest in full-time employees all the time. So freelancing can sometimes make sense. On that note, Bhanuka called on Yusra Aziz-Eliyas, Founder of Podi Jobs (now secondteam) to offer her perspective as an entrepreneur.

“When you’re marketing, even when you’re hiring someone, always be very detail oriented.” – Yusra Aziz-Eliyas

One of the key points Yusra highlighted was that communication is key. This is true particularly when you’re working with freelancers and building your team. If you don’t communicate your requirements properly, your startup is unlikely to get too far. Often this boils down to knowing what you want from the freelancers and your team.

Design Thinking: Empathy vs Feedback

Next up was Ahmed Irfan, Founder of Innovation Quotient. His topic? Design Thinking. He started off by saying that although Design Thinking has become a buzzword now, the discipline itself is over 30 years old. He went on to point out the importance of feedback and empathy, and that there’s a big difference between the two ideas. For instance, most product developers don’t get customer feedback until its too late.

CIMA Launch Pad 2018 | Marketing and Design Thinking workshop
Ahmed Irfan conducting his session on Design Thinking

Empathy plays a big part when it comes to Design Thinking. Particularly because it takes a user-centered approach to problem-solving. After all, design is not just about what it looks like. Irfan notes that it’s also about how it feels and works. For example, how markets have now shifted from advertising to storytelling.

Change from ‘make things people want’ to ‘make people want things'” – Ahmed Irfan

With regards to the Design Thinking process itself, it basically comes down to 4 steps,

  1. Gather inspiration
  2. Generate ideas
  3. Make ideas tangible
  4. Share the story

Irfan went on to take the audience through each component and how these aspects would be important for startups trying to build their companies. Following this, Irfan’s session came to a conclusion. But if you’re curious to know more about the subject, you can always check out our coverage on one of the previous design thinking workshops.

With that, the first workshop for the 10 shortlisted teams for CIMA Launch Pad 2018 also came to a close. Until next time!



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